Does your internet slow to a crawl when downloading files or watching streaming video? If so, your internet service provider (ISP) could be throttling your connection. Known as bandwidth throttling, it’s a common practice among ISPs. Thankfully, though, there’s a simple way to protect and preserve your internet connection: a virtual private network (VPN).
Why ISPs Throttle Connections
Before we explain how a VPN can protect against throttling, let’s first discuss why ISPs throttle customers’ connections. Throttling is typically done to limit the amount of data a customer uses. ISPs have a finite amount of bandwidth that they can provide. To stay within this limit, they use a combination of monthly data caps and throttling. If a customer uses a significant amount of a data, the ISP may slow down his or her connection.
However, an ISP may also throttle a customer’s connection if it doesn’t agree with the website or service he or she is accessing. Comcast, for example, has been known to throttle customers’ connections while watching Netflix. Since Comcast offers a cable TV service, it doesn’t want customers watching streaming video.
Unfortunately, throttling will only become more prevalent with the repeal of net neutrality. This legislation previously required ISPs to treat all data the same, meaning they couldn’t throttle or otherwise disrupt a customer’s connection based on the website or web service he or she was using. In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end net neutrality rules, signaling a new era of unregulated Internet service in the United States.
Protecting Your Connection With a VPN
Investing in a VPN can protect your Internet connection from throttling. It works by creating an encrypted tunnel through which your online data is transmitted and received. It won’t prevent your ISP from seeing how much data you consume, but it does prevent them from seeing the websites and web services that you use. Though free VPNs have certain issues, you should know that even those services will work in this situation.
When connected to a VPN, your Internet activity is essentially hidden from other users, including your ISP. Only the website or service to which you are connected can see it. This fact means you can download files, watch Netflix or use any other web service without fear of your ISP throttling your connection. Even if your ISP has a beef with a web service that you use, it can’t reduce your Internet speeds because it won’t know that you are using the service.
By using one of several protocol options, VPNs use encryption algorithms to turn all online data that you send and receive into a scrambled mix of characters. If your ISP looks at your usage logs, it will see encrypted data rather than actual website URLs and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Protection from bandwidth throttling is just one benefit of using a VPN. It also reduces the risk of cyber attacks and personal identity theft. Start using a VPN when connecting to the Internet. Doing so has many benefits.